Thursday, May 8, 2014

Dare to Trust

Re-release May 1, 2014

Colorado Trust Series Book 5
(Previously published as Shadowed Trust)


 Trust makes all the difference when love and danger collide

Ad-exec Jordan Blake believed image was everything—until his parents were convicted of murder, the family company went bankrupt, and his excessive drinking and arrest fueled the tabloids. When lawyer David Barnes offers representation in exchange for assistance in reopening his Colorado mountain resort, Jordan has no choice. It’s help or jail.

Hollywood wild child Lexie Sinclair disappeared by changing her name, joining the army, and marrying a soldier. Then her husband wrapped their car around a tree, killing himself, and leaving her permanently injured. For the past few years, she’s been content to live in peaceful obscurity as caretaker of David’s defunct resort.

Jordan’s arrival exposes Lexie’s true identity and brings her dead husband’s ‘friends’ calling. Jordan offers to help, but the shadow of his drinking leaves Lexie reluctant to trust. Can they conquer their fears and find the courage to face the criminals—and the world—together?


     He drove across the wooden bridge and parked a short distance from the log house. As he closed his door, the hairs on the back of his neck pricked. Unease halted his steps. Someone was watching. He recognized the sensation from the past couple months with all the reporters, and man, did he hate it.
     When a wary scan of his surroundings revealed nothing, Jordan shrugged off his discomfort and walked toward the tall set of stairs that led to the wrap-around porch and front door.
     He looked around the isolated property with a frown. This is it? Where were the cabins he was supposed to work on? Oh, wait, there they were. He peered through the Aspens and pine trees, counting a total of six structures nestled in the woods along the lakeshore. At least they would provide a good view for the guests. Finally, a positive he could work with.
     A noise from behind made him spin around. Moisture dripped from the trees, plopping onto the previous year’s foliage carpeting the ground. Otherwise, eerie quiet blanketed the area. Another twig snapped. His gaze jerked to the side and landed on a horse walking through the trees, its ears pitched forward as it watched him with curious brown eyes.
     Damn horse, giving him the willies. He felt like an idiot and forced his shoulders to relax.
     On the third step leading up to the main house, a movement on the porch caught his attention. A small raccoon waddled to the top of the steps and began to growl at him.
     Do raccoons growl?
     This one did—was—at him. Suspecting the animal might be rabid, Jordan kept his distance and looked beyond to the screen door, hoping to see David Barnes standing inside.
     A deeper, more ominous growl from behind sent a chill down his spine. Instinct warned him to turn slowly, then urged him to run at the sight of a large mountain lion no more than ten feet away. Frozen in a predatory crouch, the tawny cat’s golden gaze locked on his. Only its tail moved, swinging slowly from side to side, the tip giving a sharp twitch every couple seconds.
     His heart lodged in his throat, pounding hard, shortening his breath. The instinctive urge to run was paralyzed by the fear coursing through his veins.
     Footsteps sounded from inside the log house, but Jordan didn’t dare take his eyes off the cougar. Menacing growls continued to emanate from both it and the raccoon, but the cat was bigger. And infinitely more dangerous.
     “What are you—?”
     Jordan held up a silencing hand toward the woman’s voice at the door. “Stay there—you got a rifle in there?”
     “Yes, but—”
     “Slowly back away from the door and go get it.”
     “Mr. Blake—”
     Jordan’s jaw tightened. Of course she knew who he was, seemed like the whole damn world did. The squeak of hinges told him she’d opened the door, and he risked a quick glance—only to do a double take at the sight of the woman who’d ridden the horse in town.
     “Sass, leave him alone,” she said before glancing down toward her feet. “You, too, Rocky.”
     The growling ceased on both sides.
     Unconvinced the danger was past, Jordan turned back to the cougar. He tensed as the animal’s front dipped lower, muscles clearly bunching for action. Before he could react further, the cat bounded past him, up the steps. It gave the raccoon a swipe with its massive paw as it landed next to the woman. The masked critter rolled across the porch with an outraged howl, landed on all fours, and came back for more.
     “Sass, Rocky, behave,” the woman commanded, her prior chiding tone now sharp.
     The cougar slunk over to lie down near a porch swing, its gaze refocused on Jordan with chilling intensity. The raccoon backed off, too, but kept a wary eye on the cat.
     He turned his stunned gaze to Laura on the porch, and gave himself a mental shake. Not Laura—or Melissa. And now, after a closer look in which he noticed she’d taken off the glasses she’d worn in town, revealing bright blue eyes to go with her wine-colored hair, he realized she didn’t look like anybody who lived on the prairie.
     Lexie stared at Jordan Blake staring at her. If she thought he was better-looking from across the street, up close the man was lethal. Tall, with dark blond hair, thick eyebrows and thicker lashes to frame the incredible brown eyes focused on her. He filled out his T-shirt under his brown leather jacket, stretching the material taut across his chest.
     But she wasn’t interested in gorgeous, and the only reason her heart rate picked up was because he’d ticked her off. A gun, indeed.
     Instead of snapping at him as she wanted, she managed a fairly polite, “May I help you?”
     “I’m here to see David Barnes,” he said, his voice as stiff as his posture.
     No one ever came here for David. He set up client appointments at the Boulder office. Lexie tried to relax, but her shoulders remained tense, and her pulse refused to settle down.
     “He hired me to do some work.”
     “He hired you? You mean you’re not a client?”
     “I don’t need a lawyer,” he ground out, sounding offended.
     She almost scoffed as she crossed her arms in front of her. “What work?”
     His expression told her his business with David was none of her business. “And you are?”
     “What work?” she demanded, dread beginning to creep in behind her bravado.
     They stared at each other until he backed down first, surprising her.
     “I’m here to inspect the cabins, see if any need major repairs before winter.”
     He quit there, but Lexie knew there was more he wasn’t telling her. She couldn’t believe David was going ahead with the reopening after only one conversation about it! Hurt followed on the heels of her indignation. She knew it was his decision, his resort, but didn’t he know she wasn’t ready for this yet?
     New people every week, the chance of being recognized. Even now, without her glasses on, nervousness clawed her insides. And then the—
     Jordan Blake leaned a hip against the railing of the stairs and crossed his arms over his chest, mimicking her posture. “You decide yet?”
     “Decide what?” she asked with a frown.
     “What excuse you’re going to give instead of simply admitting David isn’t here.”
     Lexie straightened, annoyance shooting heat straight to her cheeks. Her right leg throbbed as she distributed her weight evenly on both feet for maximum height and caught his gaze. “He isn’t here. And if he truly did hire you, that means I’m your boss until he gets back.” What do you got to say to that, hot shot?

“Thoroughly entertaining...I lost track of the time because I was so engrossed in the story.” ~ Diana Coyle, Night Owl Reviews


As always, thanks for reading!

**For those who started the Colorado Trust Series in 2011**

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